Tuesday 24-05-2016 - 11:23
In March 2015, NUS Wales’s conference passed policy that outlined three things.
For NUS Wales to ensure that young people are engaged and understand democratic processes ahead of devolved elections and future referendums; to lobby to Welsh Assembly to reinstate the funding for a national youth assembly, and to lobby local authorities to ring-fence funding to fund local youth councils.
Over this past year, NUS Wales has built relationships across the youth sector from Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services (CWVYS), the British Youth Council (BYC), the Children’s Commissioners Office, Children in Wales and the National Assembly youth engagement outreach team. My aim was to scope out where NUS Wales and the student movement as a whole can add value to society and their communities relating to the youth agenda. With the cuts to youth services, it is clear that students have much to offer to young people in pre 16 education within their localities.
Ahead of the Assembly Elections, I lobbied around the two youth specific asks outlined in our manifesto which were; for the next Welsh Government to extend the vote to all those aged 16 and over and for a new national youth assembly be established to provide a forum for young people to become embedded in politics and debate, as well as provide evidence based challenge to legislators on issues that affect young people, as Welsh citizens.
In March 2016, NUS Wales’s conference passed a second policy that outlined four things; for NUS continue their work in collaboration sector organisations to create a National Youth Assembly; to support students unions to coordinate opportunities for local youth councils and youth organisations in their communities; support students unions to create opportunities for youth voice and youth social actions within their communities; to work in partnership with NUS Extra to create a sustainable funding model to support this project.
So where are we now?
NUS Wales is currently developing a model that can support and enhance youth engagement, social action and national voice opportunities through students’ unions. A paper has been produced following a meeting between NUS Wales and the now outgoing Education Minister, Huw Lewis. We are seeking ministerial support and government funding to formally research, measure and develop the implementation and impact of this work in a way that builds Problem and Place based learning approaches into the curriculum (via our role within the Donaldson Review), whilst enhancing the profile of the potential and existing opportunities that students’ unions provide within their local communities, and outreach work in schools.
I have had an initial meeting with the team from Intellectual Property Office (an executive agency of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills) based in Newport, who are working with Whitehall Industry Group to scope possible models for this strategy. They are now going to have initial conversations with sector organisations, young people and students unions – so expect a call! If you have any questions about this project, want to know more about how you can get involved, or link in the work you have been doing with young people in your community, please do get in touch!